Liverpool boss Rodgers in derby plea to referee
Liverpool boss urges Andre Marriner to keep a 'cool head' during clash with Merseyside rivals
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers admits he can't wait to experience his first taste of a Merseyside derby when his side face fierce rivals Everton tonight.
After years of Liverpool reigning as Merseyside's dominant force, it is Everton who go into the match at Goodison Park with the upper hand as they lie six points ahead of their neighbours in the Premier League.
And that should add extra spice to what is always a feisty fixture.
The meeting may be the first with Rodgers involved, but the explosive nature of the derby is not lost on the former Swansea manager.
With that in mind, Rodgers called on his players to avoid potential flashpoints and also appealed to referee Andre Marriner to keep a cool head.
"In Liverpool, the derby means everything. To the people of this city, football is a way of life. For many, many other cities it is a sport or a pastime," Rodgers said.
"At Liverpool, the history and what has been achieved in the past gives us real motivation going forward.
"But it's also important to stay calm and the referee has a big part to play because history shows a lot of red cards in this game, so I hope that we might get a decision that goes our way for once this weekend."
Injuries and a lack of squad depth have forced Rodgers to involve youngsters Raheem Sterling, Andre Wisdom and Suso on a regular basis this season.
Rodgers is hopeful that goalkeeper Pepe Reina can overcome a hamstring problem that has kept him out of Liverpool's last two matches.
Italy striker Fabio Borini is out with a foot problem, Brazil midfielder Lucas is still sidelined with a thigh injury and Martin Kelly is also absent with a long-term knee injury.
Everton manager David Moyes is hopeful that Belgian midfielder Marouane Fellaini can overcome a thigh problem, but Darron Gibson is out with a similar injury and Steven Pienaar is suspended.
Moyes has won only four of his 23 derby matches but has seen his team, who finished a place above eighth-placed Liverpool last season, make a blistering start to the campaign.
He maintains the match is about far more than just local pride. "We didn't beat Liverpool last year and we finished above them in the league, so it's a really important three points," he said.
"But it might not make a big difference to the league position come the end of the season.
"The important thing is to see if we can stay up there in a lofty position. We've rarely been up there at this time of the season.
"We go into the game in good fettle, we've got a bit of momentum, we've started quite brightly and hopefully we'll continue to play the way we have done."